Media Censorship is a global phenomenon that has foreshadowed information outlets for centuries.
A common ground for censorship is maintenance of an orderly state, whereas, the underlying motive is to keep public ignorant of the information that can potentially threaten authorities.
In modern times, censorship refers to the examination of books, periodicals, plays, films, television and radio programmes, news reports, and other communication media for the purpose of altering or suppressing parts thought to be objectionable or offensive.
In general, there are four major types of censorship: withholding information, destroying information, altering or using selective information and self-censorship.
Withholding information is a common form of censorship used by many governments throughout history. For many years in Ghana, reports by Commissions of Enquiry to probe certain issues have been kept from the public to make sure that the less citizens hear of it, the more likely they were to believe it was a good thing. The most recent one is the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election shooting incident.
Destruction of information, like the book burnings used by the Nazis to physically eliminate information that went against their ideas.
This also happened in Ghana to its first President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah after he was overthrown.
Altering information comes back to education, rewriting textbooks so that history only shows what you want it to be.
Recently, the history around Ghana’s independence and the actors behind has been altered towards some group’s idiosyncrasy.
Self-censorship is when people monitor themselves and stop themselves from giving the entire truth. One may be afraid that the government will kidnap him for speaking against them, or perhaps that he will be fired because a viewpoint is not supported by his employer.
Some of the ways in which censorship is done in Ghana include; protecting a person’s privacy, avoiding graphic details and images, concealing national security information, advancing corporate interests, hiding political bias, etc.
Effects of media censorship
Media censorship can hinder a society if it is bad enough. Because media is such a large part of people’s lives today and is the source of basically all information, if the information is not given in full or truthfully, then the society is left uneducated.
International communication and globalisation are such major advances in our world, but if the information that is being given to these societies is one-sided and only what the government wants them to hear, then they cannot fully understand and accept other countries and cultures.
Censorship is probably the number one way to lower people’s right to freedom of speech.
When a journalist has to report on only what the government wants, people do not have the freedom to express what they really want to.
In Ghana, although media censorship is not so pronounced, people have to be careful of the information they are putting out there.
The fact that people are supposed to have the right to freedom of speech does not mean anything either true or not can be put out there for consumption.